Abin George recently fulfilled a promise to walk his three year-old son to nursery on his first day.
It was a goal that motivated the nurse during months of gruelling rehabilitation after being hospitalised by Covid-19 earlier this year.
The clinical site practitioner at Northwick Park Hospital lost more than three stone in weight and had to learn to walk again after spending 40 days in hospital.
The 34 year-old, who has just returned to work after a five month absence, says his recollection of what happened remains sketchy after initially self-isolating with a temperature at a Holiday Inn hotel near Heathrow Airport.
Abin said: “It was tough to leave my wife and child but I expected to see them again in a couple of weeks and was just being cautious. I never expected what would follow.”
His condition worsened after several days and, after being admitted to Northwick Park, was transferred to Harefield Hospital during the height of the pandemic where he spent 18 days on a ventilator.
Abin said: “I still remember being trapped in these nightmarish dreams which involved being chased by bad men and my family being threatened and kidnapped.”
“I was so disorientated that when I woke up I thought it was just another dream. I didn’t know where I was or what had happened to me. It took a long time for me to believe anyone but the staff were fantastic.
“I’d never been hospitalised before and it really changed my perception of what patients go through and how important compassion and patience is in nursing.”
Family members regularly spoke to an unconscious Abin via video link and he remembers hearing the voice of his brother urging him not to give up and keep fighting.
One of his sweetest moments on regaining consciousness and being able to breathe unassisted was taking his first sip of a fizzy drink.
Abin added: “I don’t really drink them but had a real craving for a Fanta, My god, that first sip! It was sheer bliss after tepid water and saline.”
His appearance was so changed that son Aithan didn’t recognise him and Abin subsequently sent out for a pair of clippers and got nursing staff to help trim his hair and beard.
“He saw his dad on the second visit,” recalls a tearful Abin who was discharged to the cheers and claps of fellow nurses.
He received a similar welcome when he returned to work saying it took him 30 minutes to walk from the entrance to his office as colleagues stopped to welcome him.
“It’s been a long journey but it’s good to be back. I came to the UK by myself seven years ago and have made so many friends here including my wife who works on James Ward. It’s nice to be back with my second family.”